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Memphis Xplorers game notes

April 13, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

Tennessee Valley Vipers (1-1)
At Memphis Xplorers (2-0)
Date: Saturday, April 15, 2006
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CDT
Site: DeSoto Civic Center (8,400)
National Anthem:
Coin Toss:
Referee: Todd Dunaway
Umpire: Chad Walker
Head Linesman: Lark Jones
Line Judge: Chris Jamison
Back Judge: Chris Cockrell
Radio: 730 ESPN, Jim Erickson, Russ Young
TV: None
Series Record: Vipers lead 6-2
Last Meeting: 47-25 MEM 4/1/06 @ Tenn Valley Streaks: Xplorers- 2 wins (5 dating back to 7/16/05)
(8 including playoffs)
Vipers- 1 win
Coaches: Danton Barto (36-30; 3-1 playoffs, 5th Season)
Chris Williams (1-1, 0-0 playoffs, First Season)

THE STAKES: The Xplorers try to move to 3-0 on the season and 3-0 in the South Division. The Vipers are coming off a 58-50 win last week at South Georgia to even their record to 1-1. These teams met just two weeks ago in Week 1 with Memphis picking a 47-25 win.

THE SERIES: This will be the 9th all-time meeting between the teams with Tennessee Valley holding a 6-2 edge in the series. Memphis' 2 wins have come in the last 2 meetings; the season opening win on 4/1 in Huntsville and a 54-48 win at the DCC on 6/26/04.

If Memphis defeats Tennessee Valley, it would ...
- Give Memphis a 3-0 season record overall and in the South Division.
- Give Memphis its 3rd win all-time over the Vipers and 3rd straight.
- Give Memphis it's 6th straight regular season win (9th if postseason is included) dating back to last season.
- Give Memphis a 2-0 home record at the DCC.
MEMPHIS (2-0, WON 2)
Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 @ Tenn Valley 7:30 W 47-25
Sat, 4/8 Florida 7:00 W 78-46
Sat, 4/15 Tenn Valley 7:00
Sat, 4/22 @ Florida 6:30
Fri, 4/28 Macon 7:00
Sat, 5/6 Manchester 7:00
Sat, 5/13 @ South Georgia 6:30
Sat, 5/20 Bossier-Shreveport 7:00
Sun, 5/28 @ Amarillo 3:00
Sat, 6/3 @ Stockton 9:00
Sat, 6/17 Birmingham 7:00
Sat, 6/24 South Georgia 7:00
Fri, 6/30 @ Macon 6:30
Sat, 7/8 @ Louisville 6:00
Sat, 7/15 Amarillo 7:00
Sat, 7/22 @ Birmingham 7:00

Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 Memphis 7:30 L 47-25
Sat, 4/8 @ South Georgia 6:30 W 58-50
Sat, 4/15 @ Memphis 7:00
Sat, 4/22 Macon 7:30
Sat, 4/29 @ Arkansas 7:00
Sat, 5/6 Florida 7:30
Sat, 5/20 Birmingham 7:30
Sat, 5/27 Louisville 7:30
Sat, 6/3 @ Florida 6:30
Sat, 6/10 Bakersfield 7:30
Sat, 6/17 @ Bossier-Shreve 7:00
Sat, 6/24 Quad City 7:30
Sat, 7/8 @ Quad City 7:30
Sat, 7/15 South Georgia 7:30
Sat, 7/22 @ Macon 6:30
Sat, 7/29 @ Birmingham 7:30

Danton Barto-Memphis
Barto is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Memphis Xplorers. His career regular season record stands at 36-30 and 3-1 in the postseason. He is the winningest coach in af2 over the last two seasons. In each of the four seasons under Barto, the Xplorers have improved on the previous season's win total. Last season, he was named the af2 Coach of the Year as he led the Xplorers to their best season in franchise history; a 13-3 regular season mark, a Midwest Division title and the 2005 ArenaCup Championship. In 2004, Memphis won ten games and earned their first trip to the playoffs, before falling to the eventual champion Florida Firecats on a last second field goal miss. Barto was promoted from defensive coordinater to the head coach position prior to the 2002 season and won his first three games in what turned out to be a 5-11 season. Coach Barto is still considered a University of Memphis legend; he currently is the only player to be named to the All-American team three different years. He is still ranked number one in career tackles for the University of Memphis with 473. Coach Barto also enjoyed a 5-year professional career in the CFL and AFL leagues. Coach Barto currently resides with his wife Rachel and his 7-year-old son Will in Bartlett, Tennessee.

Chris Williams-Tennessee Valley
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Williams comes to the Tennessee Valley Vipers after serving as the Head Coach and Director of Football Operations for the Odessa (TX) Roughnecks of the National Indoor Football League (NIFL) for the last two years.
Williams began his arena football-coaching career with the Birmingham Steeldogs of Arena Football 2. During his tenure at Birmingham, the Steeldogs had a regular season record of 24-8 and had two playoff appearances, including an Arena Cup final four appearance in 2002. While at Birmingham, Williams climbed the coaching ladder quickly, starting as Fullback/Linebackers Coach in 2001, Wide Receivers Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator in 2002 and finally being promoted to Offensive Coordinator at the close of the 2002 season. He then went on to serve as Offensive Coordinator and Director of Player Personnel at Wilkes- Barre/Scranton (AF2) in 2003. Williams played the fullback position during his college playing days. He enjoyed his best year as a collegian, when as a junior, he rushed for 437 yards and 5 touchdowns at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Williams also spent one season at the University of West Alabama, rushing for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in 1993. Williams played professionally in the Football League of Europe. In his most productive season he rushed for 1,089 yards and 21 touchdowns playing fullback for the Munich, Germany franchise.

LAST SERIES MEETING: 47-25 MEM 4/1/06 @ T.V.
The Xplorers won for the first time at Tennessee Valley in this season opening win in Huntsville. . Brian Jones threw for 295 yards and 6 touchdowns and Kenny Higgins made his debut as offensive specialist with 8 catches for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite those offensive numbers, it was the defensive stops that won this game for Memphis. Two consecutive stops in the first half and a goal line stand late in the third quarter turned the tide in the Xplorers' favor. After the first half ended with a 26-19 Memphis advantage, the visitors outscored the home Vipers 21-7 in the second half, 21-0 in the 4th quarter. Deon Giddens made a team record 13 tackles to lead the defense.

Brian Jones threw for 279 yards and seven touchdowns while the Xplorers out-scored the Firecats 41-14 in the second half. Xplorers OS Kenny Higgins caught 10 balls for 136 yards and 3 scores. The key defensive play occurred early in the second quarter when DL Joseph Crear sacked Florida QB Chris Wallace for a safety. The two points and the seven the team scored on the ensuing offensive possession gave the Xplorers a 30-19 lead. The Firecats scored on the final play of the first half to make it 37-32 at the break, but the Xplorers would open the game up with three key defensive stops including a knocked down fourth down pass in the endzone by Deon Giddens and a Chris Eggleston blocked pass on fourth down. Terrance Quattlebaum also added an onside kick return for a touchdown in the second half. Jones was the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game; Quattlebaum was the US Army Ironman of the game and Eggleston was the ADT Defensive Player of the Game.

The 41 points the Xplorers scored in the 2nd half marked the 4th time in their last 8 games (including playoffs) that they have scored 40 or more points in the second half. Memphis scored 41 in an 83-26 win over Manchester on 7/16/05; 48 in their 71-30 conference semifinal win over Amarillo on 8/12/05 and 41 versus Rio Grande Valley in the conference finals on 8/19/05.

QB Brian Jones was named the Schutt af2 Offensive Player of the Week after his performance versus Florida on Saturday. His 7 touchdown passes tied a career high. He also had 7 scoring tosses last season versus Quad City.

Jones' 279 passing yards in Saturday's win give him 5,536 in his af2 career with the Xplorers. He is 242 shy of career franchise leader Tim Lester's 5,778. Lester played for the Xplorers in 2001 and 2002.

The win on Saturday improved the Xplorers' all-time record in home openers to 5-1. Their only home opener loss was in their first ever home game; a 24-21 loss to the Lincoln Lightning.

OL/DL Joseph Crear's 1.5 sacks in Saturday's win over Florida give him 16 in his Xplorers career. He is 1 shy of the franchise's all-time career leader Khreem Smith who is at 17. Smith, the Lineman of the Year in 2005, accumulated all of those sacks in his one season with Memphis last season.

OS Kenny Higgins' 10 receptions last week were the most by an Xplorer since Kevin Prentiss caught 12 balls versus Amarillo on 5/14/05. Higgins leads the af2 with 18 receptions and 308 receiving yards.

In the first 2 games this season, the Xplorers have outscored their opponents 62-20 in the 2nd half.

DS Deon Giddens' 13 tackles in the season opener at Tennessee Valley broke the team single-game record of 11.5 set by Kenzaki Jones versus Cape Fear on 7/3/04. His total of 13 is also tied for the 5th all-time highest single-game total in af2 history. Adrian Jones and Jermaine Toney of the now defunct Greensboro Prowlers share the league mark with 16.5 in separate games in 2003 and 2002, respectively. Through 2 games, Giddens leads the af2 with 19 total tackles.

The Xplorers had what was believed to be a record 12 players signed by AFL teams following their 2005 ArenaCup title run. A few others had training camp try-outs with teams. Of the 12, 6 are still with AFL clubs: WR/DB Sale Key (Utah); OL/DL Lewis Powell (Utah); af2 Lineman of the Year Khreem Smith (Chicago);
af2 Defensive Player of the Year DS Dahnel Singfield (New York); FB/LB Lavante Epson (Grand Rapids); OL/DL Delanio Taylor (Orlando).

Memphis' roster has 9 players that were with the team last season: K Steven Azar, OL/DL Joseph Crear, DS Scott Cunningham, WR/DB Deon Giddens, OL/DL Kenyun Glover, QB Brian Jones, OL/DL Phillip Perry WR/DB Terrell Adams and WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum.

Three players on the roster are from Memphis or played college ball in the Bluff City. Second year OL/DL Kenyun Glover played at the University of Memphis as did rookie OL/DL Gene Frederic. Memphis native Chris Eggleston, who is in his 5th af2 season, went to school at the U of M, but did not play football.

The Xplorers play 5 of their first 8 games at home and 5 of their last eight, including 3 of the last 4, on the road.

The Xplorers first 5 games are all versus South Division foes and are 2-0 in the first two games of the 5 game divisional stretch.

Coach Barto is the winningest coach in af2 over the last two-plus seasons at 25-9.

The Vipers are returning to af2 after not operating in the league in 2005. The Vipers were one of the most successful teams in af2 from 2000-2004 both on the field and in the stands. Tennessee Valley put together a 63-17 record from 2000-2004, 34-6 at home and 29-11 on the road. Entering 2006, the organization ranks first in af2 history in winning percentage (78.8), third in all-time wins (63), second in post-season appearances (5), third in home wins (34) and third in road wins (29). They are also tied for the most divisional titles with four.

This season, the team is 1-1 after falling to Memphis in their season and home opener on 4/1, but then rebounded with a 58-50 victory at South Georgia.

(2-6 / 1-3 Home / 1-3 Away)
4/7/01 55-14 L @ Tennessee Valley
6/30/01 49-48 L @ Memphis
5/11/02 57-46 L @ Memphis
7/20/02 81-31 L @ Tennessee Valley
7/5/03 51-36 L @ Memphis
5/1/04 43-33 L @ Tennessee Valley
6/26/04 54-48 W @ Memphis
4/1/06 47-25 W @ Tennessee Valley

LEAGUE TOP 10s: Players from this week's match-up who rank among af2's statistical leaders:
Player Rank Category Stat
Brian Jones 1 Total Offense 311yds/gm
Brian Jones 1 Total Off. TDs 16
Kenny Higgins 2-t Scoring 36 pts
Steven Azar 2-t Scoring (Kick) 15pts
Kenny Higgins 3 All Purpose Yd 154yds/gm
Brian Jones 2 Rushing 48 yds
Brian Jones 3 Rushing TDs 3
Brian Jones 9 Yards/Rush 3.7
Brian Jones 3 Passing Yards 287/gm
Brian Jones 6 Yards/Comp 13
Brian Jones 4 Completion % 71
Brian Jones 3 Passing TDs 13
Brian Jones 9 Passer Rating 113.3
Kenny Higgins 1 Pass Rec. 18
Kenny Higgins 8 Yards/Catch 17.1
Kenny Higgins 1 Rec. Yards 308
Kenny Higgins 1-t Rec. TDs 6
Deon Giddens 1 Tackles 19
Steven Azar 5 PAT % 83.3
T. Quattlebaum 9 KO Ret Ave 23.8
T. Quattlebaum 1-t KO Ret TDs 1
Joseph Crear 8-t Sacks 1.5
Deon Giddens 1 Passes Def. 7
D. Dunbar 7-t Interceptions 1
Player Rank Category Stat
Roger Linn 9 Total Offense 224.5
J.J. Barnett 8 Rushing Att 7
Roger Linn 5 Completion % 68.6
Roger Linn 4 Passing Atts 70
Roger Linn 10 Pass Rating 111.3
Roger Linn 2 Completions 48
Steven Lee 9 PAT Atts 12
Joey Robinson T2 Interceptions 2
Travis Blanchard T7 Interceptions 1
Torrey Day T7 Interceptions 1
Travis Blanchard T4 Tackles 8.0
Travis Blanchard 1 Int. Return Yds 53
Joey Robinson 6 Int. Return Yds 24
Travis Blanchard T1 Int. Ret TDs 1
Joey Robinson T1 Int. Ret TDs 1
Travis Blanchard T4 Tackles 11.5
Rashad Gibbs T2 Sacks 3.0
Ahmad Childress T1 Fumbles Rcvd 2
J.J. Barnett T4 Fumbles Rcvd 1
Reggie Glover T4 Fumbles Rcvd 1
Jermaine Blakely T4 Fumbles Rcvd 1
Rashad Gibbs T1 Tckles-for-loss 3.5
Joey Robinson T3 Passes Def 5
Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 3 62.5 16 41.5
Scoring Defense 3 35.5 11 48.5
Total Offense 2 314.5 17 232.5
Total Defense 14 271 10 255.5
Pass Offense 4 284.5 18 222.5
Pass Defense 11 237.5 9 232.5
Rushing Offense 4 30 12 10
Rushing Defense 22 33.5 17 23
Scoring (Kicking) 2 7.5 14 3.5
Pass Rating 8 113.3 9 112
Pass Def. Rating 13 108.6 7 103.6
Kickoff Returns 10 19.3 16 14.5
MFG Returns 3 26 23 0
Turnover Margin 4-t +2 4-t +2
Field Goals 9-t 0-0 9-t 0-4
PAT Kicking 4 15-18 19 7-12
Sacks By 7-t 2 4-t 2
Sacks Against 5-t 1 11-t 2
First Downs 5 38 11 27
Opp. First Downs 16 33 20 39
Penalties 5 124 4 134
Opp. Penalties 7 113 2 131

Pos. Name Injury Status

Danton Barto
On af2 leading receiver Kenny Higgins...

"He has been all that we hoped for. He has really come to play both weeks and now we need to see if he can do it week-in and week-out. I believe that he can. He is a special player."

On the improvements from week one to week two...

"The pass rush was better and I also think that we cut down on some of the mental mistakes. Our effort has been very good in both games. That is one thing I don't think we have to worry about with this group of guys."

On what it will take to be successful versus Tennessee Valley this week...

"I think we need to protect the ball. That is one thing we didn't do so well in the opener over there."
(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val QB Brian Jones
2 vs Florida QB Brian Jones

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
2 vs Florida WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val DS Deon Giddens
2 vs Florida OL/DL Chris Eggleston

RECENT ROSTER MOVES (most recent first):
Date Action Player
4/11 Re-assigned DL David Bamiro
4/4 Re-assigned FB/LB Chris Peavy
3/29 Assigned WR/DB Terrell Adams
3/29 Activated from OLE OS Kenny Higgins

FORWARD MOTION: Next week, the Xplorers travel to Florida for a rematch after taming the Firecats 78-46 last week at the DCC. Game time is 6:30 Central Time Saturday night.

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